HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Got Pot? Get Ready For Questions At Border
Pubdate: Sat, 11 Nov 2017
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Times Colonist
Contact:  http://www.timescolonist.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/481
Author: Jim Bronskill

GOT POT? GET READY FOR QUESTIONS AT BORDER

OTTAWA - Travellers to Canada will be routinely asked whether they are
bringing marijuana into the country as Ottawa moves to legalize
recreational pot use.

Signs will also be posted at major ports of entry to remind people
that the unauthorized importation of pot remains illegal, said Peter
Hill, associate vice-president of the Canada Border Services Agency.

In addition, the border agency plans a communications campaign through
social media to ensure travellers "are aware of the new legislation
and the requirements," Hill told MPs on the House of Commons public
safety committee.

The Liberals plan to allow adults to legally possess and use small
amounts of cannabis by next July, saying it will help keep marijuana
out of the hands of young people while denying profits to criminal
organizations.

The government is devoting more than $110 million over five years to
Public Safety, the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency to
ensure organized crime does not infiltrate the legalized system and to
keep pot from crossing borders.

The question to travellers about marijuana will be similar to those
that officers already ask about other controlled or prohibited goods,
such as firearms, food and animal products, said Jayden Robertson, a
border agency spokesman.

"The intent of the cannabisrelated question is to encourage traveller
compliance regarding importations of cannabis and provide travellers
with the opportunity to declare whether or not they are in possession
of cannabis," Robertson said in an emailed response to questions.

The border agency hopes the question will reduce the risk of
"unintentional violations" of the law, he added.

Under the proposed Cannabis Act, it will remain illegal to import into
Canada, or export from Canada, cannabis and related products without a
valid permit issued by the federal government. The unauthorized
international cross-border movement of cannabis will still be a
serious criminal offence that can result in up to 14 years in prison,
the government says.

Plans for signs at the border are "under development," Robertson
said.

Although a number of U.S. states have legalized recreational
marijuana, pot remains illegal under federal law, which applies at the
border. As a result, Canadians have been turned away by U.S. border
officials - sometimes for simply admitting they've used it.

Every country has the right to establish the standards that determine
who is allowed to enter, said Malcolm Brown, deputy minister of Public
Safety Canada.

"So, it wouldn't be, frankly, appropriate for us to counsel the U.S.
about changing their approach," he told the Commons committee meeting
this week.

But he quickly added that such issues are discussed regularly at the
"highest levels" with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, "so
they understand the approach and we will continue to encourage them,
as they do with us, to be as welcoming and supportive of Canadians
crossing."
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